How fear can become the path to your dreams
Fear can stop you from archiving your dreams. fear can keep you from living. but if you face your fear it can also set you free.
Without "fear" I don't believe it's possible to achieve your dreams. Fear unchecked can
paralyse a person into merely existing. It can corrupt Hope and Magic and turn us into
creatures simply passing time living a comfortable routine filled life without ever waking up
in the morning with the electric feeling of the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th pumping
through your veins.
If you recognises your fears, accept them and stand up to them, you open yourself to the
enormous potential that exists in each one of us. And when you tap into this potential, you
tap into a sense of self-worth and peacefulness beyond comprehension.
My first ever run was the result of a silly challenge over sushi. In the heat of the moment, I
had accepted, "researched&planned" and committed to my run down Argentina, in 6 short
minutes. And that was when Fear struck.
Initially, I suffered the fear of failure and humiliation. I'd never been more than an average
sportsman at school in any of the 8 sports I attempted, but I had run the "Comrades
Marathon" in my final year, and so my ego felt vulnerable.The fact that success in a onceoff
race was absolutely not comparable to a +-5000 km run was ignored by the perceptual
narrowing that Fear induced. In my mind, success in the first instance meant that I HAD to
complete the second if I didn't want to face the ridicule, from friends and family, that Fear
"knew" I would face in the event of failure.
It was only once I'd recognised the effect that Fear was having on my logic that I truly
believed that the project was possible. And it wasn't because I'd read about others who
had run further, because they weren't me. I didn't have their abilities, but I did uncover
certain abilities existing inside myself. Facing Fear forced me to see a side to myself that
I'd never noticed before.
I completed that run, and the confidence gained from it pushed me to try bigger projects,
this time a run through the Namib Desert without a support vehicle. Living out of my pram
brought me face-to-face with a 2nd side to Fear - the fear of physical harm. Without a
camper van following me, with its limitless supply of water and food, a satellite phone and
a girlfriend of incredible strength of character in her own right, I found myself wondering
how I was going to deal with sun burn, a twisted ankle or simply one puncture too many.
Instead of letting the fear of the unknown overwhelm me, I sat back, took a deep breath
and committed more time to planning the trip. An additional 8 minutes of planning later, I
had found a map of Namibia in my house and had plotted the route, highlighting towns
where I could buy extra sunblock and painkillers. Perhaps not the best laid plan, but even
though the fear stuck with me throughout the run, by stepping back, analysing the fear and
forcing myself to come up with solutions, I never allowed Fear to control my life. As a
result, I ran through some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever witnessed.
The Passing of Time
I'm now attempting to run around the world. At best, it will take me 6 years to complete the
run from Nordkapp to Cape Town.
I've been able to build upon the confidence gained from forcing myself to face Fear. But
Fear keeps on changing, and keeps on presenting new challenges. The fear that confronts
me now is the fear of passing time. Of missing important moments that can never be
A few weeks ago, my youngest sister gave birth to twins, the first children any of my
siblings have produced. She never asked me to hang around for them, but in starting this
run, I intentionally missed one of the most important moments in her life. Is it right to have
chosen my personal dream over this moment? I don't know. I don't know whether in the
future, I will look back at this time and experience the fear of regret because of my
selfishness. I cannot answer this question now. All that I CAN do is try harder to make this
run a success. I can either let this fear of missing similar future moments stop me right
now, or I can turn it around and use it to strengthen my resolve.
Two years ago, I was faced with a similar, but tougher decision, on whether to go on a trip
to India or not. In the end, I went. While eating my first dinner in India that following
evening, I learnt that my mum had finally lost her battle with cancer. Some of her final
words to me were: ”Don't let anybody destroy your dreams, but even more importantly,
don't you dare ever destroy anybody else’s.
Faced with her own mortality, she understood that life goes on, and that by allowing Fear
to prevent us from being the best possible version of ourselves, we are wasting this one
chance we have at experiencing this amazing thing called Life.
And so, I continue to dream incredible dreams, and as a result, I continue to not simply
exist, but to live.
Dave in the desert in Namibia. Foto: rhysmorganimages.com